Is it really true that in business, everyone is replaceable? In this podcast, business growth expert David Blaise discusses this uncomfortable truth.
Today, I’d like to call your attention to an uncomfortable truth. In business, everyone is replaceable. The person in your organization you think is replaceable? Replaceable. The person that person thinks is replaceable? Replaceable. The people in your organization you think are not replaceable? Replaceable.
You, Me, All of Us. We’re all Replaceable.
The reason I tell you this is not to make you feel sad or hurt or inconsequential or unspecial or irrelevant. In fact, quite the opposite, because, while we’re all replaceable, some are harder to replace than others, and I believe it should be the goal of each and every employee to work to become as hard to replace as possible, because the easier we are to replace, the more likely and the more quickly it is to happen.
I’m sure there was a time when people thought John D Rockefeller, Henry Ford and JP Getty were irreplaceable to their companies. Same thing with Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, and while we may argue that their replacements may never live up to their legacies, it doesn’t change the fact that all of us, eventually, will be replaced.
It’s easy to pick out the people we think could be replaced, and many of the people we think that about may think the very same thing about us. And it’s true, we’re all replaceable. Why do I keep saying that over and over? Because I believe it’s actually very empowering. If you think that other people are replaceable and you’re not, you won’t treat them well and you’ll have no incentive to improve yourself.
If you think that you’re replaceable but other people aren’t, you’ll devalue yourself, live life in the shadows and have a harder time living up to your potential. Each of us has our own skills, strengths, and unique abilities. And we’re far stronger when we develop those skills, learning, growing, and striving to be the best we can be, because the better we are, the more likely it is that someone else will see that value in us and want to reward that value.
Recognizing that we’re not irreplaceable can actually pay.
As an employee, the harder we are to replace, the more we’re worth to our current employer, and the more likely it is that another employer might want to steal us away, because no one wants to steal away an employee who’s easy to replace. But as a business owner, it’s a little different. It’s actually better to be replaceable.
So, here’s what I mean. I’ve personally started, built and sold several businesses, and one of the things I’m most proud of is the fact that I could sell them — that someone saw enough value in what I had built to want to pay for them. In fact, I was only able to exchange those businesses for money because I was replaceable. If potential buyers thought the businesses were entirely dependent upon me, they never would have bought them, so in that sense, being replaceable can actually pay.
The bottom line is that by seeing everyone, including ourselves, as replaceable in business, we have more options.
We acknowledge that, “Yes, maybe someone else could do this. Maybe they won’t be as good as we are, but who knows? Maybe they’ll be better.” So for that reason, we continue to strive. We continue to stretch. We continue to improve our skills, because when we do that, it’s far more likely that we will get to decide when we’re replaced rather than having someone else make that decision for us.
Want to make yourself less replaceable?
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